I run the risk of getting angry emails with this blog post, but then again, when isn’t the Internet outraged about something? Fair warning: this blog post might upset you if you are:
A Trump Supporter
A Trump Hater
It seems to me that events are playing out so quickly, we are all gasping for breath by the sheer scale of what has been happening since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the USA. Each day my social media feeds (Facebook and Twitter, primarily) are filled with Trump’s latest gaffe (sometimes two or three in a day) the accompanying mockery of said gaffe by means of Internet memes, my favorite being the one that keeps appearing twice or three times a day in my feed where Trump is signing an Executive Order and showing it to journalists. Sometimes there is a picture of a cat drawn by a three-year-old, other times there is a pop culture reference. You know the one. You’re seeing it two or three times a day as well. Other things that fill my feed are screen grabs of Trump’s latest Twitter diatribe.
This blog post, however, isn’t about Donald Trump. He gets enough press as it is and he doesn’t read the observations from an obscure Canadian author. This blog post is about how we’re all doing in this new and scary Bizarro World.
And it is a Bizarro World because the President of the United States isn’t behaving like a president should. Nobody knows how to deal with that, quite frankly, so I think his bizarro behavior just fuels internet outrage, memes, etc. I think, as well, what’s troubling for me is the level of tribalism which has really ramped up online in the wake of Trump’s inauguration. It’s as if his very existence forces people to choose sides and, unfortunately, we seem to have lost the ability or desire to try and find the good middle ground. (If such a thing exists anymore).
I’m Canadian. We have our own problems in Canada. What I find amusing is how the universe seems to be looking to Canada and our handsome and highly huggable Prime Minister as some shining beacon of tolerance and understanding. (Which Canada is not. Not even close. Just Google the words “indigenous Canadians” and “clean drinking water” or “incarceration levels” or “suicide” and you will be greeted with a multitude of news stories showing you that Canada isn’t exactly that super-polite country that apologizes for everything and where our health care system is 100% free and everybody gets an MRI within 24 hours.
We aren’t a perfect country. No country is. Power is concentrated in the Prime Minister’s office and his ministers are largely yes-men/women for the Prime Minister’s Office. Our political climate has certainly lightened up since Justin Trudeau defeated Stephen Harper in the 2015 election, but the same old game still exists in our nation’s capital – it’s only the players who’ve changed.
But back to the issue at hand, namely, we are living in a bizarro world now where “Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness!”. Social media has become the Grand Central Station of our new bizarro world and we are behaving toward one another precisely the way one might expect when living in a bizarro world. (I was recently called a f—ing c-nt by someone I’d been friends with on Facebook since the old Strange Chemistry Books days. Why? Because I defended free speech and basically didn’t take a liking to the fact that the individual who called me the offensive name advocated for the killing of people with opposing political views.
Think about that for a second. Let that sink in for a few moments.
I mention this because that ain’t normal thinking. That’s bizarro thinking. I get that with the inauguration of Donald Trump, the world no longer has a frame of reference for how to handle bizarro people. And Trump is 100% bizarro. But he won and this is what people need to understand: the guy won an election in the freest country on the face of the earth. Millions of people voted for him because he represented change. (Yes, go ahead and yell at me and tell me that everybody who voted for Trump is a racist, bigoted homophobic troglodyte who fell headfirst out of the back of a turnip truck.)
Here in Canada we have a race for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada where at least one of the candidates is borrowing Trump-style populism to make her case. (Her name is Kellie Leitch. She supports immigrants being screened for Canadian values, whatever the hell those are. We like donuts, hockey and beer, mostly.) We have another guy who is a reality TV star and another still (from my own city) who wants to turn the clock back on same sex marriage and abortion, among other things.
I guess what I am saying is we have to somehow learn how to live in this new bizarro world for at least four years because that’s when Donald Trump has to manage to get re-elected. And I think he will be re-elected if those who oppose him can’t come up with anything better than posting angry internet memes or a clip of Jon Oliver flailing his arms around like Kermit the frog every Monday morning.
Here is what we know:
Trump is exactly what he appears to be. He ain’t going to change. Ever. So come up with another way to express your displeasure at living in bizarro world besides posting memes and general outrage on your social media feed. Want to fight Trump and those like him?
Organize. Protest. Join an opposing political party. Write letters to the editor (assuming we still have newspapers in four years). Organize meetups. Run for office. That’s a big one … run for office. Become a change agent, even if it’s at your local level. Regulate your online behavior. Take a few moments to consider the reasons why someone is opposed to your point of view.
Fight oppression by becoming actively involved in fighting oppression. Fight sexism and homophobia and racism by becoming actively involved with those organizations who fight it. Volunteer. Send money. Do a fund raiser. Do something.
Listen to one another. Support free speech, even when the speaker is someone who makes your skin crawl. Why? Because without free speech we have nothing. Without the rule of law, we have nothing. Without each other, we have nothing.
Those people who voted for Trump (and who support those like him) are our neighbors. We have to learn to get along. We gotta figure this out.
Because, baby, the guy has been in for only one month.
And he’s making the entire online world lose its @#$% mind.
We have to learn how to manage all of this bizarro world anger and figure out how we’re going to survive four years with this guy. I’ll close off by stating that posting Internet memes is not activism. It’s chum. Social media is now a chum bucket for memes opposing Trump, religion, insert oppression category here. Posting memes makes us feel good for about two minutes. It makes us feel like we’re doing something about something without actually having to do any heavy lifting. It gives the appearance of work where no work exists.
I’m bewildered by what’s happening to us. I’m deeply troubled that we are now living in a bizarro world. I’m going to fight it by writing about it. I’m also going to start filtering out the garbage from all sides on my social media feed. It’s getting too … well … bizarro.